- The Washington Times - Monday, October 26, 2020

President Trump is pleading with Americans to focus on things besides COVID-19 in the final week of the campaign but Wall Street and his White House are making it difficult, with stocks tumbling on pandemic fears and a case-cluster forcing Vice President Mike Pence to scrap plans to attend a Supreme Court confirmation vote.

Mr. Trump kicked off a critical week by saying the “fake news media” is keeping the coronavirus pandemic front-and-center to make him look bad in the run-up to the election.

“On Nov. 4, you won’t be hearing so much about it. COVID, COVID, COVID,” Mr. Trump told supporters in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “We’re rounding the turn and we have the vaccines coming out very soon.”

Mr. Trump, crisscrossing Pennsylvania, drew contrasts with Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden on energy and trade and said he deserved more credit for his early pandemic moves, from restricting travel out of China to supporting rapid vaccine development.

“It’s going to be a great winter, it’s going to be a great spring,” Mr. Trump told supporters at a rally in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

But the nation’s battle with the virus is tilting in a bad direction, with cases hitting record highs, hospitals filling up in rural areas and hundreds of Americans still dying per day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 650 points — its worst day since early September — amid fears that surging transmission in the U.S. and Europe will impact key sectors and signs that stimulus talks remain stalled.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the administration is “going to defeat the virus, we’re not going to control it.

“We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had,” he said. “Then we can provide those emergency use authorizations. Hopefully, they’ll be coming in very short order.”

Mr. Biden says Mr. Trump is waving the “white flag” while the world waits for a vaccine.

“The bottom line is Donald Trump is the worst possible president and the worst possible person to try to lead us through this pandemic,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. “He just doesn’t have any idea what to do or just doesn’t care.”

Mr. Biden said it is appalling that Mr. Trump has suggested doctors are inflating the number of coronavirus cases because they can cash in.

“What in the hell is the matter with this man?” Mr. Biden said. “Mr. President, more than 1,000 health care workers have lost their lives fighting COVID — doctors, nurses — they are not profiting, they’re dying.”

The Biden campaign over the weekend poked the administration for being unable to keep the virus out of its own house, after Mr. Pence’s chief of staff and four other aides tested positive.

Mr. Pence, the head of the U.S. coronavirus task force, had planned to attend the Senate roll call to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett late Monday, but his possible exposure upended his plans.

Top Democrats sent Mr. Pence a letter on Sunday asking him to stay away, especially since the GOP majority didn’t need his tie-breaking vote.

“With five of your closest aides recently testing positive for COVID-19, it is not a risk worth taking. We ask you to reconsider,” the letter said.

The seven-day rolling average of daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. is nearing 70,000, putting recorded infections on par with the daily highs recorded during the midsummer surge across the South and West.

Mr. Trump said record case totals are due to rampant testing in the U.S. and the “many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%.”

Still, about 800 people are dying in the U.S. each day, on average, from the virus, a 12% increase from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker.

Mr. Trump says his administration is doing its best to protect the vulnerable while others try to get on with their lives and revive the economy.

“We must keep our people safe,” he told Allentown supporters. “But we must not give in to panic and fear.”

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